Quality and variety must be sandwiched together

May 22 2014

Sandwiches can be enjoyed no matter what time of day it is, with a wide range of fillings at the customer's disposal. 

It therefore comes as no surprise that foodservice operators are looking to capitalise upon the opportunities it affords.

New research from Technomic has highlighted the importance of restaurateurs offering sandwiches with both quality and innovation in a bid to enhance consumer appeal.

It is thought the average person eats three sandwiches a week, suggesting they are a firm favourite. The overwhelming majority (95 per cent) of people said they consume at least one a week, while more than two-fifths (43 per cent) admitted they enjoyed four or more in a typical seven-day period. 

However, it comes as no surprise that the majority of those polled make sandwiches at home, meaning the pressure is on for operators to offer such an appealing range of this type of food that it will persuade diners to choose them when they're out to eat.

The study showed 54 per cent of respondents said they make their own sandwiches, which is a three percentage point rise from two years ago. This could be because individuals are deciding to cut back on certain luxuries or they feel the offerings at restaurants are not worth the money. 

Quality and variety seem to be the way to appeal to consumers. Diners are prioritizing ingredients that are a cut above the rest, the size of the offering and how the dish itself is presented. 

Executive vice-president of Technomic Darren Tristano said: "Quality sandwich ingredients are a must. In order for sandwich operators to drive traffic and steal share, they have to strengthen the quality perception by promoting freshness and customization opportunities, while giving guests a more interesting range of toppings, breads and proteins that emphasize variety.”

Providing different types of fillings in sandwiches is particularly important as this food is eaten regularly. Consumers may tire of the usual options quicker than with other offerings, so frequently spicing up what is available could be one way of achieving customer retention. 

One thing a growing number would like to see is the option to enjoy mini-sandwiches. Whether this is because consumers enjoy this food as a snack or they are looking to eat more healthily, 35 per cent admitted they'd appreciate seeing this on menus, which marks a nine percentage point rise from 2010's figure of 26 per cent. 

Other requirements

However, customers have a number of additional requirements they would like restaurateurs to fulfil when it comes to sandwiches.

This product needs to be healthy, as this is a key concern among diners. The majority say this is a matter of high importance at both lunch (51 per cent) and dinner (53 per cent). 

In addition to this, 43 per cent are content with the nutritional content of these bread-filling-bread offerings enjoyed in an eaterie, suggesting there is ground to be made up here when it comes to deciding what type of ingredients to use. 

Sandwiches need to be portable as well, as this is a necessity for some individuals. More than three out of every five sandwiches (61 per cent) that are ordered are consumed on the road, while almost half (49 per cent) will occasionally opt for grab-and-go versions. 

Sandwich time

It transpired the most popular meal to have a sandwich - when eating away from home - was lunch. This could imply that diners feel there is a good range of products on menus from which they can choose or that simply it's a popular choice for the middle meal of the day. 

Either way, this is prime ground for operators to be making the most of, especially as 85 per cent of respondents said they enjoyed eating this for lunch once a month or more. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) said the same about dinner, while 56 per cent agreed when it came to breakfast.

Almost half (49 per cent) revealed they would have a sandwich as a snack once a month, which suggests there is a key opportunity here for operators to enhance consumer appeal. 

One thing is for certain - sandwiches are here to stay and restaurateurs who do not give this part of the menu adequate attention do so at their peril.